Tag Archives: Facebook

Random Stuff I’m Thankful For As I Go About My Day

We’re all thankful for family and friends and good health, but I tend to overlook the little things in my life that make me happy and grateful each and every day. So here’s my list …

• Kleenex

• people who know how to cut my hair

• air travel

• my car starts every time I ask it to

• paper books, digital books, and the people who write them

• Game Night, especially when we play Scattergories

• Guinness

• readily available food in my particular pyramid – fruits/veggies (with a special shout-out to sugar snap peas, red bell peppers, blueberries and Pink Lady apples), salmon, eggs, avocado, bacon, booze and chocolate

• people who buy my books

• people I don’t even know who say nice things about my books

• clean, tasty tap water

• basement storage for a lifetime of Christmas ornaments and other memorabilia (all with a story to tell), hundreds of boxes of photographic slides and a working projector on which to view them, an extra freezer, and wine by the case(s)

• xeriscape that doubles as zeroscape (I’ll concede this may not be what my neighbors are thankful for)

• plumbing, air conditioning, heat and electricity

• Netflix

• Jon Stewart, Eddie Izzard and Ellen deGeneres

• people I actually know who make me laugh

• libraries

• Nyquil

• newspapers

• newspaper advertisers so said newspapers can stay in business

• YouTube

• touring productions of Broadway musicals

• Facebook

• WordPress so I can proclaim to the world my love of goofy stuff …. like YOU!

Happy Thanksgiving!

What’s on your list?

Obama’s Speech to Kids

I posted a note about Obama’s speech to school kids on Facebook and one of my friends said that her kids needed more math and grammar work rather than listening to “a man talk about himself.” She also said that he used the word “I” 56 times.

Like all my excellent facebook friends, she got me thinking.

First, is there no place for other types of learning in a classroom than, ugh, math and grammar drills? Like having a classroom hamster … or music lessons … or recess … or read-aloud … or author visits … or drunk driving assemblies … or art class … or career day … or pep assemblies … or playing dodgeball  … or field trips?

Really? Just math and grammar?

And it also reminded me to make a wordle so I could see for myself a graphic representation of the speech.

So here is the exact speech …. Notice the biggest words? Certainly not “I.” Besides “to” and “and” the words he used the most are “you” and “your.”

complete text

And here is a wordle of the speech taking out the common words …

without common words

Frankly, I can’t think of anything I’d rather my kids listen to at school than an inspirational speech by an inspirational, accomplished man. They can learn math and grammar any ”˜ol time. Maybe at 4:30 a.m. like Barack Obama’s mom did with him.

What do you think of the hoopla surrounding the President’s speech to students?

Here’s the complete text if you haven’t read it …

Prepared Remarks of President Barack Obama

Back to School Event

Arlington, Virginia

September 8, 2009

Hello everyone – how’s everybody doing today? I’m here with students at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. And we’ve got students tuning in from all across America, kindergarten through twelfth grade. I’m glad you all could join us today.

I know that for many of you, today is the first day of school. And for those of you in kindergarten, or starting middle or high school, it’s your first day in a new school, so it’s understandable if you’re a little nervous. I imagine there are some seniors out there who are feeling pretty good right now, with just one more year to go. And no matter what grade you’re in, some of you are probably wishing it were still summer, and you could’ve stayed in bed just a little longer this morning.

I know that feeling. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia for a few years, and my mother didn’t have the money to send me where all the American kids went to school. So she decided to teach me extra lessons herself, Monday through Friday – at 4:30 in the morning.

Now I wasn’t too happy about getting up that early. A lot of times, I’d fall asleep right there at the kitchen table. But whenever I’d complain, my mother would just give me one of those looks and say, “This is no picnic for me either, buster.”

So I know some of you are still adjusting to being back at school. But I’m here today because I have something important to discuss with you. I’m here because I want to talk with you about your education and what’s expected of all of you in this new school year.

Now I’ve given a lot of speeches about education. And I’ve talked a lot about responsibility.

I’ve talked about your teachers’ responsibility for inspiring you, and pushing you to learn.

I’ve talked about your parents’ responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and get your homework done, and don’t spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with that Xbox.

I’ve talked a lot about your government’s responsibility for setting high standards, supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren’t working where students aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.

But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, and the best schools in the world – and none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities. Unless you show up to those schools; pay attention to those teachers; listen to your parents, grandparents and other adults; and put in the hard work it takes to succeed.

And that’s what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education. I want to start with the responsibility you have to yourself.

Every single one of you has something you’re good at. Every single one of you has something to offer. And you have a responsibility to yourself to discover what that is. That’s the opportunity an education can provide.

Maybe you could be a good writer – maybe even good enough to write a book or articles in a newspaper – but you might not know it until you write a paper for your English class. Maybe you could be an innovator or an inventor – maybe even good enough to come up with the next iPhone or a new medicine or vaccine – but you might not know it until you do a project for your science class. Maybe you could be a mayor or a Senator or a Supreme Court Justice, but you might not know that until you join student government or the debate team.

And no matter what you want to do with your life – I guarantee that you’ll need an education to do it. You want to be a doctor, or a teacher, or a police officer? You want to be a nurse or an architect, a lawyer or a member of our military? You’re going to need a good education for every single one of those careers. You can’t drop out of school and just drop into a good job. You’ve got to work for it and train for it and learn for it.

And this isn’t just important for your own life and your own future. What you make of your education will decide nothing less than the future of this country. What you’re learning in school today will determine whether we as a nation can meet our greatest challenges in the future.

You’ll need the knowledge and problem-solving skills you learn in science and math to cure diseases like cancer and AIDS, and to develop new energy technologies and protect our environment. You’ll need the insights and critical thinking skills you gain in history and social studies to fight poverty and homelessness, crime and discrimination, and make our nation more fair and more free. You’ll need the creativity and ingenuity you develop in all your classes to build new companies that will create new jobs and boost our economy.

We need every single one of you to develop your talents, skills and intellect so you can help solve our most difficult problems. If you don’t do that – if you quit on school – you’re not just quitting on yourself, you’re quitting on your country.

Now I know it’s not always easy to do well in school. I know a lot of you have challenges in your lives right now that can make it hard to focus on your schoolwork.

I get it. I know what that’s like. My father left my family when I was two years old, and I was raised by a single mother who struggled at times to pay the bills and wasn’t always able to give us things the other kids had. There were times when I missed having a father in my life. There were times when I was lonely and felt like I didn’t fit in.

So I wasn’t always as focused as I should have been. I did some things I’m not proud of, and got in more trouble than I should have. And my life could have easily taken a turn for the worse.

But I was fortunate. I got a lot of second chances and had the opportunity to go to college, and law school, and follow my dreams. My wife, our First Lady Michelle Obama, has a similar story. Neither of her parents had gone to college, and they didn’t have much. But they worked hard, and she worked hard, so that she could go to the best schools in this country.

Some of you might not have those advantages. Maybe you don’t have adults in your life who give you the support that you need. Maybe someone in your family has lost their job, and there’s not enough money to go around. Maybe you live in a neighborhood where you don’t feel safe, or have friends who are pressuring you to do things you know aren’t right.

But at the end of the day, the circumstances of your life – what you look like, where you come from, how much money you have, what you’ve got going on at home – that’s no excuse for neglecting your homework or having a bad attitude. That’s no excuse for talking back to your teacher, or cutting class, or dropping out of school. That’s no excuse for not trying.

Where you are right now doesn’t have to determine where you’ll end up. No one’s written your destiny for you. Here in America, you write your own destiny. You make your own future.

That’s what young people like you are doing every day, all across America.

Young people like Jazmin Perez, from Roma, Texas. Jazmin didn’t speak English when she first started school. Hardly anyone in her hometown went to college, and neither of her parents had gone either. But she worked hard, earned good grades, got a scholarship to Brown University, and is now in graduate school, studying public health, on her way to being Dr. Jazmin Perez.

I’m thinking about Andoni Schultz, from Los Altos, California, who’s fought brain cancer since he was three. He’s endured all sorts of treatments and surgeries, one of which affected his memory, so it took him much longer – hundreds of extra hours – to do his schoolwork. But he never fell behind, and he’s headed to college this fall.

And then there’s Shantell Steve, from my hometown of Chicago, Illinois. Even when bouncing from foster home to foster home in the toughest neighborhoods, she managed to get a job at a local health center; start a program to keep young people out of gangs; and she’s on track to graduate high school with honors and go on to college.

Jazmin, Andoni and Shantell aren’t any different from any of you. They faced challenges in their lives just like you do. But they refused to give up. They chose to take responsibility for their education and set goals for themselves. And I expect all of you to do the same.

That’s why today, I’m calling on each of you to set your own goals for your education – and to do everything you can to meet them. Your goal can be something as simple as doing all your homework, paying attention in class, or spending time each day reading a book. Maybe you’ll decide to get involved in an extracurricular activity, or volunteer in your community. Maybe you’ll decide to stand up for kids who are being teased or bullied because of who they are or how they look, because you believe, like I do, that all kids deserve a safe environment to study and learn. Maybe you’ll decide to take better care of yourself so you can be more ready to learn. And along those lines, I hope you’ll all wash your hands a lot, and stay home from school when you don’t feel well, so we can keep people from getting the flu this fall and winter.

Whatever you resolve to do, I want you to commit to it. I want you to really work at it.

I know that sometimes, you get the sense from TV that you can be rich and successful without any hard work — that your ticket to success is through rapping or basketball or being a reality TV star, when chances are, you’re not going to be any of those things.

But the truth is, being successful is hard. You won’t love every subject you study. You won’t click with every teacher. Not every homework assignment will seem completely relevant to your life right this minute. And you won’t necessarily succeed at everything the first time you try.

That’s OK.  Some of the most successful people in the world are the ones who’ve had the most failures. JK Rowling’s first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was finally published. Michael Jordan was cut from his high school basketball team, and he lost hundreds of games and missed thousands of shots during his career. But he once said, “I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”

These people succeeded because they understand that you can’t let your failures define you – you have to let them teach you. You have to let them show you what to do differently next time. If you get in trouble, that doesn’t mean you’re a troublemaker, it means you need to try harder to behave. If you get a bad grade, that doesn’t mean you’re stupid, it just means you need to spend more time studying.

No one’s born being good at things, you become good at things through hard work. You’re not a varsity athlete the first time you play a new sport. You don’t hit every note the first time you sing a song. You’ve got to practice. It’s the same with your schoolwork. You might have to do a math problem a few times before you get it right, or read something a few times before you understand it, or do a few drafts of a paper before it’s good enough to hand in.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. I do that every day. Asking for help isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign of strength. It shows you have the courage to admit when you don’t know something, and to learn something new. So find an adult you trust – a parent, grandparent or teacher; a coach or counselor – and ask them to help you stay on track to meet your goals.

And even when you’re struggling, even when you’re discouraged, and you feel like other people have given up on you – don’t ever give up on yourself. Because when you give up on yourself, you give up on your country.

The story of America isn’t about people who quit when things got tough. It’s about people who kept going, who tried harder, who loved their country too much to do anything less than their best.

It’s the story of students who sat where you sit 250 years ago, and went on to wage a revolution and found this nation. Students who sat where you sit 75 years ago who overcame a Depression and won a world war; who fought for civil rights and put a man on the moon. Students who sat where you sit 20 years ago who founded Google, Twitter and Facebook and changed the way we communicate with each other.

So today, I want to ask you, what’s your contribution going to be? What problems are you going to solve? What discoveries will you make? What will a president who comes here in twenty or fifty or one hundred years say about what all of you did for this country?

Your families, your teachers, and I are doing everything we can to make sure you have the education you need to answer these questions. I’m working hard to fix up your classrooms and get you the books, equipment and computers you need to learn. But you’ve got to do your part too. So I expect you to get serious this year. I expect you to put your best effort into everything you do. I expect great things from each of you. So don’t let us down – don’t let your family or your country or yourself down. Make us all proud. I know you can do it.

Thank you, God bless you, and God bless America.

Facebook Sniglets

My kids are all home at the same time so I’m taking the opportunity to step out of BeckyLand for awhile and play with them. But while I’m staycationing, I thought I’d also take the opportunity to share my very funny writer friends with you.

First up is Mike Sigalas.

Mike Sigalas

Mike taught writing for a decade at a number of colleges and universities, including the University of South Carolina, the Citadel Military College, Orangeburg-Calhoun College, and others. He holds degrees from the University of South Carolina and California State University, Chico.

His other jobs included working as a blood bank distribution specialist, college-town rock singer, newspaper and magazine editor, Disneyland Jungle Cruise skipper, and surf-band roadie.

He is the author of Moon Handbooks to South Carolina, North Carolina, Coastal Carolinas, and Charleston & Savannah, and co-author of Moon Handbooks Smoky Mountains.

Sigalas book cover

Facebook Sniglets by Mike Sigalas

Remember Comedian Rich Hall’s “Sniglets?” Words that don’t exist, but should? Here are a few I’ve created for Facebook. Most of us have experienced or been guilty of these at one point or another. Feel free to add your own.

1. Facekeepers: FB friends whom you “friend” because they were acquaintances in a larger group where you had real friends, not realizing that those real friends already are or shortly will be on Facebook themselves, eliminating the motivation for “friending” the Facekeeper in the first place.

2. Bonus Buddy (BB): Someone with whom you connect way better on Facebook (perhaps due to increased maturity, or the removal of old constraints,) than you ever did in real life.

3. Facebalk: Responding cheerfully to a direct FB Message from an old friend while quietly neglecting to “friend” them in the process.

4. Defacing: “Unfriending” a FB friend.

5. Caspering: Refusing to put up a picture on Facebook, so that everyone sees only a white silhouette.
6.Statusloading: Intentionally inserting status-related ephemera to one’s Status Updates as a way of cyberboasting:
Fred is enjoying the ocean view from his living room.
Mike is working hard on his next book.
Shari just returned from sampling some wonderful Cabs at Chez Pierre.

7. Leftrighting: (religious) Clear violations of the Christian teaching that one’s good works should be done anonymously for God and not broadcast to engender the praise of other people:
Doug is back after a wonderful hour of private prayer time and devotion!
Karen is praying for her women’s group members.

8. Faceshock I: The horrifying realization that your recently rediscovered friends have all aged decades while you’ve remained basically the same.

9. Faceshock II: The far more horrifying realization that some of your recently rediscovered friends don’t seem to have aged a bit, while you’ve aged decades.

10: It’s Complic-Haze — The intentional lack of clarity one leaves around potentially embarrassing or controversial aspects of one’s life.

11: Mar-anoia: The belated, sudden, awkward posting of one’s married status (e.g. “Jim is now married to Susan.”) to offset any misconceptions about one’s motives for messaging or requesting a “friend” status with a member of the opposite sex.

12: Dogfacing (verb): Refusing to let people see what you look like now behind the guise of showing endless cute pics of your dog.

13: Kidfacing: Same thing.

14: Faceborn Friends: People whom you never would have met in real life, but with whom you correspond daily or almost daily on Facebook.

15. FaceGrace: An unexpected second chance, found through Facebook, to reclaim a lost relationship or apologize for long-ago misdeed.

16. Faceglaze: the distortion between the life we intentionally project in our Facebook postings/photos and the one we really live.

“How’s ol’ Dave doing?”

“Sounds like all he does is ski, work out, and see ‘fabulous’ concerts, but there may be some Faceglazing going on.”

17. Friendorexia: The compulsion to add ever more and more names to your Friends list; an unhealthy obsession with the number of FB “friends” one has.

18. Bookbuzz: That warm feeling you get when someone you didn’t think knew or liked you asks you to become their FB friend.

19. Facefallen: The disappointment experienced upon realizing that the person whose unexpected Friend Request gave you Bookbuzz has 1,784 other “Friends.”

Got any more?

My Funny Friends

I truly have the funniest, most entertaining Facebook friends. Many I know personally, but a significant number I’ve never actually met. “Friend” is a nebulous concept these days.

For those of you unfamiliar with the mysterious ways of Facebook, every day ”” or every minute ”” you can update your status on your profile page. Facebook automatically starts with your name, then you fill in the rest. All your friends can read it, comment on it, or just give it an effusive thumbs up.

Boring friends try to sell you something or tell you about yet another of their blog book tours or offer up fascinating tidbits like, “Becky is eating a sandwich.”

But my fabutastic friends say things like this over the course of about three days ….

• <insert name here> is repeating the magic words and waving her magic wand, but the house still looks like…oh, wow. No wonder we never invite anyone to dinner.

• is feeling virtuous. Hopefully it won’t last.

• It happened. It was bound to. I reached for my coffee and took a big swig of ink stained water – I grabbed the mug that I use to wash my brushes. Ironically, it’s the coffee I need to not make such mistakes…(India ink does not taste good).

• helped Katie today… again more industrious than the bloody industrial revolution…

• kicked over an ant hill today. REBUILD. Haha.

• Who names their child Aldous?

• had a couple of thoughts just now. Must be digging out of the cotton mush that took over my brain today.

• ‘s husband is a genius… he’s decided to “create a new month called Edu-vember, where teachers are able to catch up on all of their work without distraction! help spread the word!”

• bought a new orange basket, because nothing says ‘I love you’ like storing your kids’ toys in a receptacle that smells like cow dung.

• Favorite quote from Worlds: “OMG half the Staples Center just got eye-raped by Brian Joubert.” Only he didn’t say “raped.”

• Your mood swings are kinda giving me whiplash.

• is back at work, no sick Johns. (Um. Should probably clarify that I am not a hooker.)

• feels a little bad that my 7 year old left an empty table setting for me, and my 4 year old waited up past 9 because he wanted to say Good Night. It’s nice to be missed, and–hey! One of my kids set the table!!

• is so excited that her marshmallow tree is blooming like crazy and she will have a bumper crop of fresh marshmallows in a few weeks. Fluffernutters for all.

• is nimbly avoiding the past participle but crashing into the continuous aspect.

• imagines the students in his children’s lit class will greet his newly written lecture on the predictive coefficient of children’s fantasy with sustained applause, rhythmic clapping and stomping, and loud, piercing ululations of untrammelled joy tomorrow.

• was playing in his office chair and found a fun lever that made him fall out of it! *hops up and pulls it again* WEEEEEE!!!

• is listening to a fantastic Gordon Lightfoot record. Yes. I said Gordon Lightfoot. Deal with it.

• Wow! This message just makes a lot of sense – “Search is currently unavailable, please try at another time or right now.” Guess they’re optimistic that search is only unavailable for a millisecond or so…

• thinks winter is being a control freak. Relinquish!!

Do you want more of these funny bulletins from my friends in the future? Did any make you snort right out loud?

One Word Game

I love the goofiness that is Facebook, so I appropriate (a much better word than ‘steal,’ don’t you think?) as much of the fun stuff as I can. One of the great pleasures in my life is reading the status updates from all my Facebook friends. They are a HOOT! (Yes, I will post some of them eventually.) But what do I expect … my BFFs are mostly writers, teachers, librarians, musicians and teenagers. All funny people.

For those of you not familiar with Facebook, by lunchtime you can be BFFs with people you didn’t know at breakfast by reading their profiles, all the stuff they’ve posted, notes they’ve written, videos they’ve linked to … basically, everything that floats their boat. But also by playing games with them.

So, play the One Word Game with me! The rules are simple ”” type only one word answers.

Aw, who am I kidding?! You’re not going to play this entire game! So here’s the abbreviated version so we can be best friends too.

1. Your favorite thing?
2.  Your dream/goal?
3.  What you’re not?
4.  One of your wish list items?
5.  Your hair?

Here are my complete answers …

1. Where is your cell phone? purse
2. Your significant other? businessman
3. Your hair? messy
4. Your mother? knitter
5. Your father? Toastmaster
6. Your favorite thing? reading
7. Your dream last night? forgotten
8. Your favorite drink? Guinness
9. Your dream/goal? multi-published
10. The room you’re in? freezing
11. Your fear? fire
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? richer
13. Where were you last night? home
14. What you’re not? quiet
15. Muffins? blueberry
16. One of your wish list items? peace
17. Where did you grow up? Colorado
18. The last thing you did? exercised
19. What are you wearing? sweater
20. Your TV? downstairs
21. Your pets? dead
22. Your computer? MacBook
23. Your life? excellent
24. Your mood? chipper
25. Missing someone? Jessica
26. Your car? Toyota
27. Something you’re not wearing? tiara
28. Favorite Store? thrift
29. Your favorite season? summer
30. Your favorite color? red
31. When is the last time you laughed? recently
32. Who will/would re-post this? mankind
a. mailbox
b. school
c. grocer
d. library
a. salmon
b. cake
c. chinese
d. cheese
a. beach
b. London
c. Manhattan
d. Ireland

And here are the complete questions, just in case you do want to play with me. I won’t hold my breath, though.

1. Where is your cell phone?
2. Your significant other?
3. Your hair?
4. Your mother?
5. Your father?
6. Your favorite thing?
7. Your dream last night?
8. Your favorite drink?
9. Your dream/goal?
10. The room you’re in?
11. Your fear?
12. Where do you want to be in 6 years?
13. Where were you last night?
14. What you’re not?
15. Muffins?
16. One of your wish list items?
17. Where did you grow up?
18. The last thing you did?
19. What are you wearing?
20. Your TV?
21. Your pets?
22. Your computer?
23. Your life?
24. Your mood?
25. Missing someone?
26. Your car?
27. Something you’re not wearing?
28. Favorite Store?
29. Your favorite season?
30. Your favorite color?
31. When is the last time you laughed?
32. Who will/would re-post this?